A tale of two banks

As part of earning my IT Degree, I had two five months placements in industry. Both happened to be at Banks.

The first was within a very technical group that worked on mainframe storage. The policies and processes were surprisingly casual. In effect they relied on their very experienced team members to understand their job.

The second placement was with a programming team that worked on customer data. The procedures at this bank were overly complex and detailed. I remember a small change to a static text field in a report that took months to get into production. The change was quite literally a 2 minute job, but it required reams of documentation and the re-running of every test kit scenario associated with the report.

It was clear to me back then that both bank’s methodologies were wrong. The first was too risky, and the second was so slow and cumbersome that it introduced risks of its own. They should have had a balance between structured procedures, and the flexibility to allow knowledgeable workers to get their jobs done.

I’ve had 20 years IT industry experience since, and I still feel that lesson is just as accurate now as it was then.

These same thoughts came back to me while I was reading the start of the CSM December meeting notes.  (Available from here – http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=74210)

CCP Seagull obviously had passion in describing how CCP’s goals for EVE would be structured, at what levels they would be engaging with prospects, players and the characters, and so on.

I don’t want to downplay the difficulties in managing the development of a 10 year old computer game, but I came away feeling less than encouraged. Their apporach was overly complex, the fundamentals too prone to change as staff come and go, and instead of supporting productivity, it could inhibit it.

I’ll see how far I can get through the document before deciding ignorance might be more blissful.